an elephant on the jersey shore
The Jersey Shore! Home to sun, surf, sand, and elephants.
That’s what I thought when my sister asked me if we wanted to join them on a visit to Lucy the Elephant on our way down to Cape May. “It’s only the oldest example of Zoomorphic Architecture out there”, my brother-in-law said. I can’t resist anything old and unique so of course I said yes!
We left our homes early in the morning and by mid-morning we were driving along the ocean. We turned a corner and there she was! Lucy the Elephant, all 6 stories of her. The kids jumped out of the car and ran over to explore while I marveled at the fact that there was a 65 foot elephant staring out at the ocean.
As if walking around the outside of Lucy wasn’t enough, I was thrilled to discover that there was actually a tour that went inside of the elephant! We purchased the tickets and were soon led to a door at the base of the elephant’s foot and climbed stairs up its leg into its belly. The belly was a huge wooden room. Our tour guide led us over to a TV and played a short movie that talked of Lucy’s history.
She was first created in 1882 by a man who hoped to attract people to his real estate holdings south of Atlantic City. She was eventually sold and served various functions throughout the years including home to a family one year, a tavern, and hotel. By the 1960′s Lucy had fallen into disrepair and a committee was formed to raise money to preserve her. Today Lucy is actually a National Historic Landmark!
I love that an elephant stands at the Jersey Shore with no real purpose other than staring out at the ocean. It always saddens me to see historic buildings, homes, and structures torn down or renovated beyond recognition just because there is something newer or better. Doing so causes us to lose where we came from and who we were.
Standing in Lucy’s howdah and looking out to the tall hotels of Atlantic City and the waves crashing onto the sand made me realize how quickly time passes, yet so much remains the same. There were no tall hotels or casinos when Lucy was built. Just a bunch of low-lying sandy lots that flooded at high tide. But people then saw what we still see today, the beauty that is the Jersey Shore. They came then, as we still do today, to enjoy the sun and ocean and spend time with family and friends.
It’s my hope that Lucy will look out at many more generations of people enjoying the shore! Check her out for yourself in Margate, NJ.